The last few days have been tumultuous in the life of The United Methodist Church. General Secretary Susan Henry-Crowe responds.
Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ.
The last few days have been tumultuous in the life of The United Methodist Church and I want to begin with a word to my LGBTQIA friends, colleagues, and neighbors. You are beloved of God. Your lives and your relationships are sacred and holy and I grieve the harm done to you through words and actions in the name of Christ.
This was my 11th General Conference. I seldom tire of United Methodists gathering to witness to our faith in God to the world.
I love to celebrate the communities living out the Gospel around the world. I love to worship, praying in our many languages and cultures. It is so good to laugh and cajole one another to come along as we feel a common gladness about proclaiming the love of Jesus Christ, seeking justice and pursuing peace.
The 2019 General Conference session brought some joy and laughter and the gathering of friends. There were moments that would have bored Jesus to tears.
There were also moments that broke the heart of God.
The 2019 General Conference chose to further deepen the divide in The United Methodist Church. The plan adopted by a slim majority is punitive, contrary to our Wesleyan heritage, and in clear violation of the mandate given to us in 1 Corinthians 12.
“The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’” (1 Corinthians 12:21a) One part of our church cannot say to another, “I don’t need you.” And yet, that’s exactly what happened.
The 2019 General Conference brought unbearable pain to the body of Christ. The delegates’ resistance to hear and honor the presence and voices of LGBTQIA people has created a wound. The wound may one day be healed by the grace of God, but the scar left behind will be visible forever.
Our prayer must be of repentance. We must seek forgiveness. We must call on Christ to heal all of the brokenness we have imposed on the body.
I will pray for forgiveness in my part of having participated in a church that has excluded, pushed out and damaged many faith-filled LGBTQIA people. For all the families and young people wounded by these exclusions, we must always pray.
We must also put our faith into action and continue to work for LGBTQIA equality.
We will seek justice for LGBTQIA migrants. We will seek to end conversion therapy, the dangerous and discredited idea that you can change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. We will work to ensure that no one is fired from their job or prevented from access to housing because they are LGBTQIA. We will work to end hate crimes against LGBTQIA people, especially LGBTQIA people of color. We will seek a climate in which LGBTQIA children are protected and enabled to live full and flourishing lives.
Whatever comes next for The United Methodist Church, I am steadfast in my belief that the General Conference cannot release us from our responsibility to love and care for a world groaning for justice.
I am in prayer for you, for our church and for the world.